A man appeared in a Cypriot court yesterday facing charges of hijacking, illegal possession of explosives and kidnapping.
Seif al-Din Mustafa surrendered to police after a six- hour stand-off on board an EgyptAir flight on Tuesday.
He flashed a V-sign from the back seat of a police car as he arrived at court.
The suspect told police the hijacking was a plan to see his Cypriot former wife and their four children after Egypt’s government barred him from travelling abroad.
“What’s someone supposed to do when he hasn’t seen his wife and children in 24 years and the Egyptian government won’t let him?” he said.
Meanwhile, some of the 55 passengers described the scenes aboard the Airbus 320 as they arrived home.
There was the man who kept calm throughout the hijacking only to lose his cool when Cypriot police confiscated his frozen chicken, and the opera singer whose trip home became an international terror scare.
EgyptAir plane hijacking suspect Seif Eddin Mustafa flashes the victory sign as he leaves a court in a police car. Photo / AP
There was also the passenger who slept through the ordeal only to wake with a start when the plane touched down in Larnaca instead of Cairo.
Abdallah el-Ashmawy, a lecturer in surgery, told how a fellow passenger managed to hold on to a frozen chicken in his luggage throughout the hijacking.
The meat was finally taken from him by Cypriot security as he boarded a flight back to Cairo, causing him to shout: “You let an explosive belt pass but you refuse to let me take my chicken?”
Farrah el-Dibany, an opera singer, 27, was making the trip from Alexandria to Cairo en route to her home in Berlin when she noticed the plane making an unexpected turn over the Mediterranean and the cabin crew then began collecting passports.
A man leaves the hijacked aircraft from the pilot’s window. Photo / AP
As other passengers sat terrified as the plane headed toward an emergency landing, one man was slumped fast asleep in his seat.
He woke only when the aircraft touched down at Larnaca, where a neighbour told him they had been hijacked. “Why Cyprus?” He groaned. “I will miss my connection.”
One man gave his wife a loud and detailed description of money he had hidden in a bank. “His wife kept forgetting about the hijack thing and asked him to repeat the bank name,” Mr el-Ashmawy said.
Egypt’s government yesterday tried to claim the six-hour crisis was “good publicity” for the country.